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An empirical look at diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) are primarily understood in psychiatric terms, which can have a big impact on how the concept is used and by whom. However, research using the latest empirical methods is needed to understand the relationship between the individual and combined criteria for AUD and their ability to predict functional impairment. Researchers used the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, along with advanced statistical techniques, to understand and optimize the relationship between the criteria, alcohol consumption, and impairment. They found that either three of nine criteria would be needed for a diagnosis, or—second-best solution—two of five. Efficiency should be balanced with predictive power when designing any screening or diagnostic tools.

The article, “Deriving alternative criteria sets for alcohol use disorders using statistical optimization: Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health” was published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology and funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Research & Resources